Manhunt continues for Hispanic male; perimeter set up near Liberty


The manhunt continues this morning for the Hispanic male is believed to be involved in the shooting of an Oologah, Okla., police officer and an innocent motorist near Coffeyville whose vehicle was carjacked.

Sheriff Bobby Dierks said the manhunt is centered in the Liberty area. Law enforcement officials are looking for Alejandro Garcia, age 30, who was last seen wearing a white polo shirt, blue jeans, tennis shoes and gold chains. Garcia abandoned the vehicle he carjacked near the All Saints Cemetery east of Liberty on U.S. 169 highway Thursday evening. A perimeter has been set up around they area where they believe the suspect is hiding.

Dierks said Garcia is believed to be armed and extremely dangerous. People should not approach him if located. Call 911 immediately if the suspect is located.

Two people involved in the Oologah shooting have been taken into custody. They are Cesar Rios, age 23, and Roxanne Mendoza, age 20.

Stay tuned to the Montgomery County Chronicle’s Facebook page for more details.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Constitutional crisis looms between judicial and legislative branches


The State of Kansas appears headed to a constitutional crisis within its state government due to a set of events on Friday that now pits the judicial branch against the legislative branch.

On Friday morning, the Kansas House of Representatives scraped enough votes (64-57) to pass a controversial, two-year, public education funding bill that would be a wholesale change from the way public schools have been financed since 1993. Instead of funding schools based on enrollments (with additional dollars given to external forces, such as poverty, minority enrollment, at-risk enrollment, transportation, and construction of new buildings), the bill would provide funding to local schools on a block grant basis.

Members of the Republican-dominated Kansas House of Representatives contended that local schools would still receive the same amount of money for the 2015-16 school year as they did in the 2014-15 school year. Additional language was inserted in the bill to give local schools more flexibility in how they spend money for specific items.

State Rep. Jim Kelly, R-Independence, voted against the measure while and State Rep. Richard Proehl, R-Parsons, cast a vote in favor of the block grant bill. State Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, was unable to cast a vote as he as in Coffeyville to welcome Gov. Sam Brownback for an announcement of an industrial announcement in Coffeyville.

The Kansas Association of School Boards and most school districts in Kansas opposed the bill.

That bill is now headed to the Kansas Senate, where it is assured majority support. Gov. Sam Brownback has indicated he will sign the bill into law quickly.

Hours after the vote was taken, a three-judge panel dealing with an ongoing lawsuit about the Kansas public education finance system issued a ruling saying it could block any new school finance plan from taking effect while the lawsuit is in litigation.

The order from the three-judge panel considering the lawsuit set a May 7 hearing in the case and stated: “Further, be advised that upon motion of the Plaintiffs or the State or upon the Court’s own motion, with or without notice, the Court may agree or elect to impose such temporary orders to protect the status quo and to assure the availability of relief, if any, that might be accorded should the Court deem relief warranted.”

Immediately after the three-judge panel issued its order, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt expressed grave reservations about the panel’s ruling and decree. He said numerous constitutional issues now arise with the panel threatening to apply the brakes on the Kansas Legislature’s block grant funding bill.

Said Schmidt in a press release, “Today’s order from the panel was unexpected and unusual to say the least. After the instructions from the Supreme Court last March and the legislature’s prompt response, we had thought and hoped this dispute was headed for a swift and final resolution. But today’s order from the panel introduces further delays and injects a host of additional constitutional and legal issues. The path to resolution is now less clear than ever before. We are studying the order carefully to determine the appropriate next steps.”

More details to appear in the March 19th issue of the Montgomery County Chronicle.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Gas nozzle in vehicle prompts deputy to seek search; 2 arrested

Two Independence residents await drug and weapons charges after a traffic stop by a sheriff’s deputy on March 5 resulted in a significant drug and weapon seizure.

Sheriff Robert Dierks said a deputy who was monitoring traffic near 10th and Main streets in Independence on March 5 observed a vehicle pull into the Jump Start convenience store. The deputy observed the driver pump gas and drive away with the gas nozzle still inserted into the vehicle. Dierks said the deputy initiated a traffic stop and made contact a male driver and female passenger.

During the traffic stop, the deputy summoned the sheriff’s department canine based on what the deputy observed. The canine made a positive indication that drugs were present in the vehicle, which resulted in the search of the vehicle. Found in the vehicle were $7,000 in currency, about one-half pound of methamphetamine, and a loaded handgun.

Taken into custody at the scene were Kyle Cole Harris, age 39, and Sonya C. Harris, age 29, both of Independence. They were booked into the Montgomery County Jail.

Dierks recommended the following charges be filed against the two individuals: possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and weapons violations.

“This was a great example of good, solid police work, and these arrest represent a significant seizure,” said Dierks. “My deputies were able to take thousands of dollars worth of illegal narcotics and a weapon off our streets, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Caney mayoral primary election to be March 3

Caney voters will go to the polls next Tuesday, March 3 for a primary election that will narrow the numberer of candidates running for city mayor.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. All voting will take place at the Cornerstone Church, 900 S. Ridgeway.

There are four candidates running for mayor, and Tuesday’s primary election will narrow that list to the top two vote recipients. Those two candidates will then face each other in the April 7 general election.

All other positions for the Caney City Council will be decided in the April 7 general election.

Candidates for mayor include incumbent Carol McClure, 100 S. Vine, and challengers Russell Wade, 100 N. East; Rick Pell, 215 E. 6th; and Kenith A. Butts, 412 N. State.

The Montgomery County Chronicle asked each of the four candidates why those decided to run for mayor and what they would hope to accomplish during their two-year term. Their responses are below.

Rick Pell

Q. Why did you decide to run for the position of Caney mayor?

A. There are several reasons why I have decided to run for mayor.

1. What happened to the Federal Water Emergency Water Supply Grant?

This is a grant to tie-in with Chautauqua County water line, should we run out of water.

This grant was also going to pay for the water meter at the city lake that we were told that we needed to install. This meter was going to cost the city taxpayers $50,000 until we were able to get it included in the grant.

2. Control spending: It looks as if we have an open checkbook as I found out the last meeting I went to when one of the council members stated that at every meeting all they do is spend money.

When we want to buy, we need to ask is this something that we need or just want.

The mayor and council members are there to watch over our money and I believe there needs to be some improvement on how our money is spent.

3. Zoning board. What happened to our zoning board? I know someone that put in for a permit and paid the $50 to put up a carport last July and as of now she still has not had her meeting with the zoning board.

I talked to one of the board members and he told me that he has never been contacted. Why is it taking so long?

Q. What do you want to accomplish if elected?

A. 1. Consistency in providing city services such as water plant, street repairs, trash and waste water plant.

2. Hire and retain certified personnel.

3. Better understanding the citizens’ concerns.

This is just a few things that I would like to see get done. There is much more that needs to be addressed and with your help we can make it happen.

Russell Wade

Q. Why did you decide to run for the position of Caney mayor?

A. I decided to run long before the events involving the water this week. I was superintendent of the city sewer plant years ago, and I know it’s a real mess now. That’s why I chose to run.

Q. What do you want to accomplish if elected?

A. I want to reroute the semi-trucks through Caney onto designated truck routes. I’m also going to put some people to work in Caney, Kansas. After a week like we’ve had in Caney, there is something else wrong. I’m going to make sure the city employees learn their jobs.

Carol McClure
Q. Why did you decide to run for the position of Caney mayor?

A. I am running for mayor because I would like to see Caney grow. The Dollar General Store was needed, but we need a grocery store and retail expansion.

Q. What do you want to accomplish if elected?

A. I would like to see our water plant operate the way it was designed to operate. Much needed street repairs are a priority. We need a city administrator to handle the day-to-day operation of the city.

Kenith Butts

Q. Why did you decide to run for the position of Caney mayor?

A. I am running for mayor because I am seeing too many people leaving Caney. We need to revisit our ordinances because there are ordinances that will keep you from building a house because the size of the lot is too small. We also need to revisit the ordinances so that we can assure that citizens have their rights to own property.

I also am running for mayor because we need to get things moving in our businesses. We need to do something . . . because our businesses are dying when everybody leaves.

Q. What do you want to accomplish if elected?

A. More than anything, I want our council to be responsive to the concerns of the voters. I have not had my ward 2 councilor talk to me in years. And, if they would simply listen to the people, then things will start to take shape.

It’s a lot of little things that need to be done, and Mayor Carol McClure has already started some of those things. But, a lot more needs to be done, including helping our police officers improve their wages and benefits.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Primary election required for Caney mayoral race; all other races to be decided on April 7

A primary election will be required in Caney on Tuesday, March 3 to narrow a list of mayoral candidates.

Noon Tuesday was the deadline for persons to file for city council, city commission, school board, or community college trustee positions for the spring 2015 election cycle.

A primary election will be held on Tuesday, March 3; a general election for all races will be held on Tuesday, April 7.

Caney is the only community in Montgomery County where a primary election will be required because of the volume of candidates for the one mayoral position. Four candidates are seeking that post, and the March 3 election will narrow the selection to the top two vote recipients. Incumbent Carol McClure, 100 S. Vine, is being challenged by three other candidates: Russell Wade, 100 N. East; Rick Pell, 215 E. 6th; and Kenith A. Butts, 412 N. State.

Butts also is seeking a position on the Caney City Council as a ward 2 councilor. As of the Tuesday filing deadline, Butts was the only candidate for the seat and is the assumed winner, barring a successful write-in campaign from a ward 2 resident.

In the race for ward 1, there are two candidates: incumbent Dan Johnston, 1017 N. High, and David K. Taylor, 501 N. Smith.

The race for the ward 3 council seat, which was left open with the 2014 resignation of Bill Sims, is vacant and will be claimed by any write-in candidate in that ward.

The race for ward 4 councilor has one candidate: incumbent Chad Bradford, 511 E. 5th.

Two persons are seeking the position of city treasurer: incumbent treasurer Sara Shively, 609 E. 4th, and Edie Vernon, 402 S. Spring.

• USD 436 Board of Education: The Caney Valley school district has five seats open on the local school board, and each of the five seats has one candidate, meaning they will be elected in the April 7 general election barring any write-in campaigns. Those five candidates are Zach Ellison, 308 E. 2nd, for district A, position 4; Aaron Richey, 1101 S. State, district B, position 5; Austin Bruce, 1634 Old Hwy. 166, for district B, position 6; Rick WIlson, 106 E. Olive in Tyro, for the at-large position; and Ron Wade, 204 E. Sixth, for district A, position 1.

• Cherryvale City Council: No primary election is needed in Cherryvale; however, the the race for mayor and two council seats has drawn a busy slate.

For the race of mayor, incumbent John M. Wright, 508 W. Main, is being challenged by former Cherryvale city official Sylvia S. Shaffer, 536 W. Main.

In the race for city council ward 1, position 2, which is a position that had been held by councilor Kevin Crain, there are three candidates: Don King, 820 E. Main; Vic Holloway, 821 E. 4th; and Glen E. Driskel, 721 E. 5th. Crain chose to not seek re-election.

• USD 447 Board of Education: There are six candidates for the four at-large positions on the Cherryvale-Thayer school board. Of those six candidates, only two are incumbents: Joe Marchant, 4051 CR 5900, Cherryvale, and Randall Studebaker, 6425 Brown Road, Thayer. The four others seeking election to the school board are Jason Hooper, 110 W. 1st, Cherryvale; Jo Neuburger, 802 E. 4th, Cherryvale; Terry Smedley, 230 S. Malcolm, Thayer; and Mark Torkelson, 703 E. 4th, Cherryvale.

The top four vote recipients in the April 7 general election will be elected to four-year terms on the school board.

• Coffeyville City Commission: There are six candidates seeking the three available positions on the Coffeyville City Commission. The candidates include three incumbents: Don Edwards, 1107 W. 5th; Justin Martin, 2211 W. 3rd; and Jim Falkner, 1014 W. 3rd. They are being challenged by James C. Taylor Jr., 608 Willow; Craig Powell, 1206 W. 1st; and Randal Hills, 1326 W. 1st.

The top two vote recipients will serve a four-year term on the city commission; the candidate with the third-most votes will serve a two-year term.

• USD 445 Board of Education: Four candidates have filed for the four available positions on the Coffeyville school board. They include three incumbents: Robert Robson, 106 Herring Lane; Trudie Kritz, 1105 Benton Road; and Denise A. Gates, 402 E. 11th. The other candidate is Magan Martin, 2211 W. 3rd.
Barring any write-in candidacies, the four candidates will be elected to their positions in the April 7 general election.

• Independence City Commission: The race for the two positions on the Independence City Commission has garnered four candidates, including incumbents Gary Hogsett, 501 S. 10th, and Fred D. Meier, 2712 Links Lane. The other candidates are William Zach Webb, 500 W. Myrtle, and Ned Stichman, 725 Washington Street.

• USD 446 Board of Education: There are four candidates seeking the four at-large positions on the Independence school board. Those four candidates include three incumbents: Marty Reichenberger, 2570 W. 5000th Street; Scott Hines, 2905 Royal Court; and Charles Barker Sr., 521 S. 16th. Also seeking the a school board position is Jen Rutledge, 1400 Rainbow Drive.

• Coffeyville Community College: Three incumbent members of the CCC trustees have filed for the three positions on the trustee board. Those candidates include Keith Osborn, 2520 CR 1475, Caney; Sherri Melander, 2538 CR 2400, Caney; and Lue Barndollar, 416 W. 6th, Coffeyville.

• Independence Community College: Three people, including one incumbent, are seeking the three available seats on the Independence Community College trustees. Those candidates include incumbent Jay Jones, 1201 W. Oak; and challengers Jana Taylor Shaver, 430 Catalpa, and Sam Forrer, 203 Stagecoach Lane.

• City of Dearing: Seeking the position of mayor is Randy C. Haymaker, 215 Hill. Council candidates include Terri Bishop, 202 W. Elm; Kenneth W. Campbell, 403 Main; Michael Clark, 606 Woodland; and Philip K. Helt, 603 Woodland Hills. There is one council position unfilled.

• City of Elk City: Seeking the position of mayor is Carl Ennis Moore, 222 W. Maple. Seeking the position of council are James B. Jordan, 101 N. Montgomery; Tallelisa Ehret, 403 E. Maple; and Eric Bennett, 603 S. Franklin. There are two council positions that are unfilled.

• City of Havana: No persons have filed for the position of mayor. There are three candidates for the five council seats: Karla E. Watson, 100 E. Lockwood; Patsy J. Taylor, 100 E.
Montgomery; and Irvaleen Gartrell, 509 E. Mary.

• City of Liberty: Brad Allen, 128 N. 3rd, is seeking the position of Liberty mayor. Seeking the five positions on the Liberty City Council are Jim Tallman, 413 N. 3rd; Scott Lasco, 105 N. Cedar; Christine D. Hillyard, 118 Elm; Melinda Rae Harper, 208 N. 5th; and Ben Harper, 208 N. 5th.

• Wildcat Extension District: There are two people who are seeking the two positions on the Wildcat Extension District board. They are Jerry Hall, 5243 CR 3300, Independence; and Warren K. Newby, 3591 CR 1675, Coffeyville.

• Verdigris River drainage districts #1, #2 and #3: Only one candidate is seeking a place on the three Verdigris River drainage districts. Steven Westervelt, 501 N. Forest, Coffeyville, is a candidate for the Verdigris River Drainage District #1.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

The seed for desegregation was planted in Montgomery County

(Reprinted from the Montgomery County Chronicle • Jan. 19, 2012)


When the U.S. Supreme Court declared racial segregation as unconstitutional in the case Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, the institutional barriers of racial separation began to be dismantled.

That case has its roots in Kansas, giving the state the distinction of setting the course toward racial integration.

However, prior to the Brown decision in 1954, as many as one dozen other legal attempts were made to end racial segregation in public schools. No other pre-Brown case drew as much national attention as a legal case from Coffeyville.

For hidden in the shadows of the Brown decision — exactly 30 years before the Brown case was rendered — was Thurman-Watts vs. Board of Education of Coffeyville.

* * * *

The story of the Thurman-Watts case should be understood by knowing the location of Coffeyville schools in 1924 as well as the laws of segregation that ruled the day.

Racial segregation had been the prevailing culture of the country dating back to its earliest colonial years. However, racial segregation did not gain legal validity until 1896, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy vs. Ferguson that public institutions could segregate races through “separate but equal” facilities.

In Kansas, racial segregation in schools was allowed based on population of a community. State law mandated racial segregation in elementary schools located in first-class cities (towns of 15,000 population or more). Racial integration was required in the junior high, middle high school and high school levels.

In second-class cities (towns of less than 15,000 population), racial segregation in public schools based on the Plessy decision was not allowed.

In 1923, the lines of color separation were clearly spelled out in the Coffeyville school system. Cleveland School, located at Third and Linden streets, was an imposing two-story structure with eight main classrooms — serving African-American elementary students in the central and eastern portions of Coffeyville. Douglas School, located in the western portion of Coffeyville, also served African-American students in the first through eighth grades in its three rooms.

A host of “ward schools,” or neighborhood schools, served the white students of the Coffeyville community. Among those schools were Lincoln, McKinley, Lowell, Longfellow, Whittier, Garfield, Ingalls, Logan and Spaudling schools. Washington High School served both races and was located on the grounds of what is now Coffeyville Community College.

Chief concern among Coffeyville school officials beginning in 1920 was the overcrowded conditions of all schools and the need for a permanent junior high-style school that could offer early high school training programs, such as domestic science (for girls) and manual training (for boys). That’s why those officials successfully campaigned for construction of a junior high school — called Roosevelt School. Having a prepertory school for high school not only would lessen the burden on existing schools but also afford more training opportunities to early teenagers of all races, school officials said in their campaign materials.

Coffeyville school board members at that time tried to secure the African-American vote for a bond issue’s passage by promising racial integration in the new junior high school. The school board members visited one predominantly-black church, Calvary Baptist Church, on a Sunday morning prior to a bond issue election to seek support for the bonds that would be needed to construct Roosevelt School, which would serve students in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades.

The bond issued was approved, and construction on the new “junior high” school began in April 1922.

The new Roosevelt School held its first student enrollment on Sept. 18, 1923, which is the day Victoria Thurman-Watts, who had just completed the eighth grade at Cleveland School the previous May, discovered that the new junior high school would not accept African-American students.

Thurman-Watts and other black children wanting to enroll in the new junior high school were informed — through a directive issued by Superintendent A.I. Decker — that the African-American freshman would return to Cleveland School for their ninth grade year, even though Cleveland School was not designed to hold a ninth grade curriculum.

Cecilia Thurman-Watts protested her daughter’s denial of enrollment and took the issue to Decker, the superintendent. Thurman-Watts would later testify in court that Decker claimed he had the legal authority, set out by state law, to segregate the children. Thurman-Watts testified that she was led to believe Roosevelt Middle School was to be an integrated school and that she also learned that all landowners of Coffeyville — black and white — were paying for the new school through a higher levy.

Thurman-Watts immediately cried foul and filed suit in the Kansas Supreme Court seeking the admission of her daughter to Roosevelt.

A total of 20 Cleveland School eighth grade students were promoted to the ninth grade for the 1923-24 school year. Only one freshman student, Lucille Walker, enrolled at Cleveland School because she had transferred to the community from Mississippi some two weeks after the 1923-24 school year began. Walker would later testify that, as a freshman, she was forced to sit in the eighth grade room and was not allowed to participate in music or domestic science courses because they were designed for the eighth grade and younger students.

Cleveland School itself was structurally deficient to take on additional students in 1923. Designed for a limited number of students in each classroom (one classroom per grade level), the crowded conditions forced some classes to be held in the basement, where students had to slip past a furnace and hop over clogged sewer drains to get to a makeshift classroom.

“By all testimony that was heard in this case, Cleveland School was a dump,” said Thom Rosenblum, historian at the Brown Vs. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan. “Space was at a premium in that building. In fact, a janitor would testify that the sewer lines would get clogged and remained clogged for days, leaving students and the staff vulnerable to the sewer gas as well as raw sewage.”

Rather than take her daughter to Cleveland School where classes for freshman classes were non-existent and where a student’s health and well being were in question, Cecelia Thurman-Watts did the one thing that she thought was best for her daughter: she taught her daughter at home.
So, too, would 13 other parents of Cleveland School freshman.

The 13 African-American parents who taught their freshmen students at home would be arrested by local authorities.

The charge: refusing to send students to school.

Consider it the first show of civil disobedience in the war for civil rights.

Rosenbum, the historian at the Brown site, said the Thurman-Watts case would get the attention of two groups, each of which was in a different galaxy when it came to racial equity. The first group was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which had Topeka attorneys Elisha Scott and R.M. Van Dyne at its service. Scott was an accomplished attorney who had successfully defended fellow African-American families in other segregation cases in the early 20th century.

The second group that was involved in the case was the Ku Klux Klan, which Rosenblum said, allegedly had three members of the Coffeyville Board on Education on its roster.

The Thurman-Watts legal team had multiple basis for their legal challenge against Coffeyville:
• that state law allowed racial integration at the junior high and high school level in first-class cities,
• that the Coffeyville school board, through several school officials being members of the “invisible empire,” practiced bigotry that translated into forced segregation, and

• that the Coffeyville school board practiced discrimination by allowing its black-only school to be inferior in structure and resources when compared to the white-only school.

When the Kansas Supreme Court took up the case, the prevailing argument had nothing to do with racial equality, said Rosenblum. Instead, the primary argument was whether the ninth grade level at Roosevelt School was classified as an “elementary” class or a “junior high” class. It took attorney Elisha Scott six tries to get Superintendent A.I. Decker to admit that the freshman class was, in fact, the first year of high school — a fact that did not go unnoticed by the state’s high court.

In reaching its decision in late January 1924, the state court said the Coffeyville school board lacked the power to segregate the ninth-grade students on the basis of race by nature of the community being a first-class city. The court stated that it was commonly understood that the ninth grade was considered part of the high school.

However, the court also ruled that school districts are allowed to create school zones for the assignment of students so as not to create overcrowded schools — provided that the zones are reasonable and not based on race or color.

In the eyes of the African-American community, the battle had been won.

The Coffeyville school board still was defiant in the face of the court’s decision.

* * * * *

Four days after the court issued its opinion, African-American students Victoria Thurman and Alonzo Grubbs presented themselves at Roosevelt School for admission into the ninth grade. They were accompanied by their mothers: Cecelia Thurman-Watts and Mrs. M.L. Grubbs.

However, the students and their mothers were met at the Roosevelt School door by principal J.H. Benefield, who informed them that “he had no orders to admit colored students to said school and that they were to report to the Cleveland School for orders.”

The parents immediately sent a telegram to attorneys Scott and VanDyne, who, in turn, appealed to the state’s high court to issue a “writ” that would command Coffeyville schools to accept the black freshmen students for admission.

However, a unique thing happened while the attorneys and court justices haggled the merits of the case: the same day Thurman and Grubbs went to Roosevelt to seek admission as freshmen, a host of other African-American students from the seventh and eighth grades appeared at Roosevelt demanding enrollment. All students were told to return to Cleveland School for enrollment.

The state’s high court issued a demand to the Coffeyville school board to settle the issue through specific zones in an effort to reduce overcrowded schools . . . as long as the zoning process did not include racial segregation.

The same “writ” also demanded that the African-American students be allowed to use all facilities in the new Roosevelt School, such as the domestic science classrooms, manual training area, gymnasium and cafeteria.

When Victoria Thurman and 19 other children returned to Roosevelt School for admission on Feb. 14, 1924, they were allowed entrance but immediately required to take a series of five entry tests to determine their competency. Sixteen of the 20 black students failed the tests and were, therefore, denied enrollment into the school based on their lack of education. Decker, the superintendent, defended the use of the tests, claiming they were standard tests given to all students across the Coffeyville school system.

Scott and VanDyne appealed to the state’s high court once again, asking the court to hold Coffeyville schools in contempt for issuing standardized entry tests that, the attorneys claimed, were “unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive.”
On July 5, 1924, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled against Scott and VanDyne’s motion.
However, the court did award Scott $1,000 in attorney’s fees.

* * * * *

Thurman-Watts vs. Board of Education of Coffeyville would not be a landmark case in the fight for civil justice. And, it would take many more lawsuits over the ensuing decades before the U.S. Supreme Court would take up the issue of racial segregation.

That would come in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that segregation of public institutions was unconstitutional. Representing the Brown family and the other families who filed the class-action lawsuit was Charles Scott, the son of Elisha Scott, who represented the Coffeyville family in the 1924 case.

Was there a direct connection between the Thurman-Watts case and the Brown case? Rosenblum contends the two cases were totally separate, however the Thurman-Watts case could be considered the impetus for the arguments that would be heard in the Brown case.

“The Thurman-Watts case was a training ground for Brown,” said Rosenblum. “The Thurman-Watts story also was unique because it showed the first signs of civil disobedience when the 13 parents chose to strike against the school district and not send their kids to Cleveland School.”

Why didn’t the the Kansas Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of racial segregation, choosing instead to determine the merits of legalistic arguments (i.e., whether a freshman class was considered to be in the high school level as compared to the elementary level)? Rosenblum said most state judges of that era believed segregation was wrong but had little choice because the Plessy case still was the law of the nation.

“Until the U.S. Supreme Court made its decision in the Brown case in 1954, Plessy was still the law of the land,” said Rosenblum. “A district or state judge may have thought personally that segregation was wrong and, therefore, unconstitutional. But until the U.S. Supreme Court made its landmark decision in 1954, the lower courts could do nothing but uphold Plessy.”

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Extra time now required under new postal delivery format

The time it takes for your valentine love note to reach your spouse, a paycheck to be sent to your employee, a Christmas card to get to your cousins, a payment to arrive at your utility service, or a church newsletter to get parishioners will now take a bit longer under a U.S. Postal Service operations adjustment that has been in effect since Jan. 5.

Brian Sperry, a regional spokesperson with the U.S. Postal Service in Kansas City, Mo., confirmed that the postal service has changed its delivery timeframe due to declining volumes of first-class mail. As of Jan. 5, first-class local mail now requires an extra day for delivery — meaning that a first-class letter mailed from your community to an address within your community will now take a minimum of two days for delivery.

So, if you mail a letter in Coffeyville to a local address on Monday, it will arrive at that Coffeyville address on Wednesday. That minimum two-day delivery is the norm throughout most postal regions, like the 673 zip code of southeast Kansas.

The reason? Fewer people are using the first-class mail as the find alternate means for commerce, information and communication dissemination.

“Single-piece first-class mail volume has declined 53 percent in the past ten years, and its decline is expected to continue as more and more people pay their bills online and communicate digitally,” said Sperry. “This mail consists largely of personal correspondence, bill payments, greeting cards, etc. Prior to Jan. 5, 2015, when sent locally, it was delivered within one day. Now this mail will be delivered in two days. For 49-cents, First Class Mail will still be delivered anywhere in the contiguous United States within three days.”

Packages, including medicine/prescriptions, are not affected by the service change, Sperry said.

Major mailers presenting first-class mail to the postal service will continue to have an opportunity to present their mail for overnight processing and delivery based on revised entry times, Sperry said.

According to a U.S. Postal Service fact sheet, first-class mail now takes an average of 1.8 days to delivery. When the changes were implemented on Jan. 5, that delivery service was expected to take an average of 2.1 days.
The U.S. Postal Service is attempting to reduce overall operating costs by $20 billion by 2017. Changing service standards and “right-sizing” the postal service’s processing and retail structures are part of a larger comprehensive plan designed to restore financial stability to the service, Sperry said.

In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service began a series of postal operations consolidations to trim expenses. In Kansas, the consolidation including sending all first-class mail to Wichita for overnight sorting and then return it to the regional postal centers by semi-truck before the next day’s mail is delivered. In the 673 zip code region, Independence serves as the regional postal site.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Affiliation being sought between CRMC, Mercy

Plans are underway to seek an independent third party to evaluate a possible affiliation between Mercy Hospital of Independence and Coffeyville Regional Medical Center.

David Steinmann, Mercy chief executive officer, said Monday that a community task force group that was created to examine the future of Mercy Hospital, approved a plan late last week to work with CRMC in evaluating the feasibility of an affiliation. A third-party consulting firm would be hired to evaluate and investigate such an affiliation, Steinmann said.

“Our task force is solidly behind the idea of pursuing this research and wants to fully understand the opportunities of a relationship with CRMC,” Steinmann said. “There was a great deal of optimism expressed at our meeting that this type of arrangement could greatly benefit the residents of our entire county in terms of assuring high-quality health care remains available and sustainable for many years to come.”

Steinmann said the consulting firm would review a variety of data from both hospitals and assist each party in assessing the strengths and opportunities of a potential affiliation.

From his office at CRMC, CEO Jim Chromik also shared his organization’s outlook on the process to come. “The CRMC Board of Directors has been very supportive and enthusiastic about collaborating and working with Mercy for the benefit of both hospitals.” 

Steinmann said a potential consulting firm has been identified to complete the evaluation, and the next step is to establish expectations for the scope, timeline and cost of the study. Steinmann said he will work closely with Chromik, along with legal counsel and the governing boards of both organizations, to facilitate the process.

He said the group anticipates a completed study by early spring.

Both CRMC and Mercy Hospital have been been hit in 2014 with the losses of several key medical doctors, either through retirement or relocation to other medical facilities in the region.

Mercy’s discernment process, which began in 2014, had examined a possible merger or affiliation with the St. John Health System based in Tulsa. However, those discussions ended in late 2014 when St. John chose not to pursue an affiliation.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Swift action tests off-duty firefighters from Johnson County


THAYER — If a story could be written about being at the right place at the right time, look no further than the journey of three Johnson County firefighters, one of whom is a native of the Liberty area.

Swift action combined with years of professional training by firefighters Ryan Felts and David Wolff of the Shawnee (Kan.) Fire Department and firefighter/media Josh Parrish of the Olathe (Kan.) Fire Department were instrumental in resuscitating an Oklahoma semi-truck driver who was involved in a freak mishap in Thayer last Friday, Dec. 12.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, David Ryan, age 56, of Locust Grove, Okla., was traveling northbound on U.S. 169 highway when he became unconscious. His northbound semi veered off the roadway, hit a pick-up truck that was parked at the Thayer Fire Station and Thayer City Hall (and damaged a portion of the fire station building), crossed Neosho Street and slammed into another parked pick-up truck in front of the Acorn Valley Custom Cabinet Company. The semi then came to rest after it hit the cabinet company building.

Seconds away from the crash scene were the three Johnson County firefighters, who were southbound on U.S. 169 as they were en route to the Liberty area for a weekend of deer hunting. Felts is a native of the Coffeyville-Liberty area and the son of Richard and Shirley Felts of Liberty. Felts and the two other firefighters have made an annual deer hunting trek to the elder Felts’ property near Liberty for the past several years.

Ryan Felts picks up the story:

“We were southbound on U.S. 169 and noticed a number of people were running across the highway, which we obviously thought was odd. When we came up on the area in front of the Thayer Fire Station, we could see the semi trailer and the crushed pickup truck against the Acorn Valley building. People were gathered around the cab of the semi. We also saw a portion of the Thayer Fire Station was part of the damage path. So, we immediately pulled over and offered assistance.”
Wolff is a captain at the Olathe Fire Department, where he serves as a firefighter/medic. Felts and Wolff, besides being firefighters, are EMT trained.

Because ambulance service was another 15 to 20 minutes from arriving, the three men put their years of training to work. Seeing that the semi-driver was unconscious, they immediately began applying CPR in an effort to pump air into his body and regain his pulse.

Felts, being familiar with the ways of the emergency services and having some knowledge of Thayer, spotted the fire station and ran to it in hopes of locating an automated external defibrillator, or AED, which is standard equipment in many fire stations. Felts searched the several vehicles inside the damaged fire station and found the device (the fire station is empty of personnel as it is staffed by volunteers only during emergencies). He returned to the crash scene with AED in hand and helped Wolff and Parrish apply the device to the semi-driver.

The AED device allowed Ryan to regain his pulse. By that time, the fire emergency service crews from Chanute had arrived and transported Ryan to Neosho County Memorial Hospital for medical treatment. He was later transferred to another hospital.

The three Johnson County firefighters then returned to their own vehicle, grabbed a collective sigh of relief, and continued their travel to Montgomery County for a weekend of hunting.

“Thank God no one was in those two pickup trucks when the semi hit them,” said Felts in recounting the incident. “If there was a good thing that happened, it was that the pickup truck actually absorbed the force of the collision. Had that truck not been parked there in front of the cabinet company, there is a chance the semi would have slammed into the cabinet company building and caused a lot of damage and injuries.”

Felts said the firefighters’ years of emergency services training were instrumental in allowing himself, Wolff and Parrish to keep their wits in a time of an emergency.

“This is one of those rare cases where the situation develops in front of your eyes, and the sequence of events progresses,” he said. “In most cases, we are paged out from a fire station and have several minutes to mentally prepare. But, this is a situation where you render the aid as the situation unfolds in front of you. I have to also say that the bystanders in Thayer were very helpful.”

Felts scoffs at the term “hero” being applied to them. He also says he, Wolff and Parrish would have done the same thing — regardless of where they were.

“We are just glad to hear there were no injuries to bystanders and that the semi driver was transported to the hospital,” he said.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off

Exhaust fan manufacturer to locate to Coffeyville


COFFEYVILLE — In the same year in which two Coffeyville major industries announced their plans to close local plants, the Coffeyville community got some good news on Wednesday: a new industry will relocate to Coffeyville, bringing with it 10 to 20 jobs.

Steve Burney, president and chief operating officer of the Loren Cook, has announced their company will open a new manufacturing facility in the former IBT building in the Coffeyville Industrial Park. The Loren Cook Company, whose corporate headquarters is in Springfield, Mo., manufactures ventilation equipment for commercial and industrial buildings.

The Loren Cook Company has recently acquired the 38,500 square foot IBT building and is expected to open the facility in the spring of 2015. They will employ between 10 and 20 metal fabrication and light assembly operators.

In announcing the acquisition of the building Steve Burney stated, “Loren Cook will be manufacturing the Gemini line of small exhaust fans in our Coffeyville facility. These fans can be found in the Disney Hotels and Resorts, and our company also designs and manufactures custom blowers for projects like the new One World Trade Center in New York City.”

Mayor Jim Falkner said Loren Cook purchased 15 acres of land from the City of Coffeyville to accommodate future expansion.

Posted in Breaking News | Comments Off